THREE HISTORICAL FORCES
AGAINST THE CHURCH
This article’s topic is very “touchy”. It may very well be the most difficult subject I shall ever tackle. I pray that God the Holy Spirit will guide my thoughts as I try to shed some light on a maze of reality that affects the whole world, especially the Church.
So, let's get right into the task at hand.
"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
These are comforting words to Christians. It's great knowing that come whatever, even hell, Jesus is going to be successful in achieving His desired goal of building His Church. Isn't that “good news”?
But, Jesus certainly did imply that obstacles would stand in the way of the building of His Church. What are these forces, or "gates", as He called them? Well, there are many. But I want to talk about a certain, big three.
Am I off my usual subject of prophecy? No way. When unveiled, the three powers I want to discuss are right in the thick of the prophetic word. It only takes a little digging to see this fact.
The greatest hindrances to the Church are not way "out there" somewhere among all the obvious, heathen philosophies available in the world, although these too oppose the building of Christ’s Church. But the particular “gates” I want to discuss here are three, fanatically-religious groups, all of whom claim to be rooted in the Biblical father of faith, Abraham. I'm referring to Judaism, perverted "Christianity" and Islam. Let's look at them in that sequence for that's the order in which they came.
When I speak of "Judaism" I'm not talking about God-seeking, Christ-believing Jews, those like Nicodemus, for example. (See John 3.) I'm referring to those typified by the following verses:
"Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, Teacher, we want to see a sign from you." But He answered and said to them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah."
Now these represented the religious community. They were in the mainstream of the Jewish leadership of that day. And Jesus called them "an evil and adulterous generation". These reflect the Judaism I'm talking about and, make no mistake, others like these exist until this day.
There are many passages which describe this force, or "gate", in great detail which came against Christ. Luke 4 is one of the better ones. Read the whole chapter but here I'll merely summarize the story. Jesus stood in the synagogue of His home town of Nazareth and read from Isaiah 61, stating emphatically that He was the one who fulfilled that prophecy. The Jewish response?
"Then all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff." (Luke 4:28&29.)
Well, it didn't happen. Jesus' work was only beginning. He walked right through them and went on His way teaching, preaching, casting out demons, healing the sick, etc., until He came to His final hour. But these same forces were still at it, trying to kill Him. And in God’s perfect timing the Father finally allowed it at the cross.
Yes, it was the Jewish, religious community who finally conspired to crucify Jesus. Of course, these didn't know that they were slaying the Lamb of God, their own Messiah, and certainly Satan was the culprit behind the scenes who inspired these Jews, but this does not excuse the people themselves. They must someday stand to be judged by Almighty God for what they did. This force, or "gate", has continued throughout the Christian era. It did not die away. It is more subtle now but never doubt that the ancient "scribes", "Pharisees" and "priests" have their counterpart in our day. They don't only openly reject Christ, but will one day actually receive the Anti-Christ as their messiah! (See John 5:43.)
I most certainly am not trying to stir up hatred against Jews or national Israel. I love the Jews. My Lord gave His life for them. However, I'm speaking of the reality of a primary force which has come against the Church of Jesus Christ from its inception. And it won't go away until Jesus' second appearing. He will deal with these in His own way. As we have seen, the beginning of this opposition is clearly indicated in Scripture. This is not an opinion. It is a fact. Keep your eyes on what happens in this community against the genuine Gospel proclamation over the coming months. Next in line is...
I put "Christianity" in quotes because this force, or "gate", claims to be of God, but its theology won't allow the title of genuine Christianity. I'm referring to the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Now I realize that will get a negative uprising among some people. I'm sorry about that. I really am.
I'm fully aware that there are "good" Catholics. Let me explain what I mean by that statement. I'm convinced many Catholics are saved, but they didn't receive their salvation by hearing and applying the "gospel" of Catholicism. They were saved just like any other Christian, by believing the simple Gospel truth that Jesus died for their sins and they trust in Him as personal Lord and Savior.
(Personal note: A Catholic lady was my office secretary for about 12 years. She is a Christian. For her own reasons, she remains in the Catholic church, perhaps as a missionary. I never asked her why.)
What are the beliefs of the Catholic church that indicate its gospel is perverted? Well, there are many. Let me cite a few:
1. The Infallibility of the pope.
The Roman Catholic church believe and teach that Peter was the first pope. They misapply the verse quoted at the beginning of this article, Matthew 16:18. They believe that Peter is the central figure of this verse. The truth is that when Jesus made this statement He was not talking about building His Church on Peter as an individual (Peter's name "petros" means a little stone). It is "this rock" ("petra", meaning a massive stone) upon which would rest the Church — Jesus and His Gospel. (Certainly Peter and all the apostles were part of the Church's foundation.) No way, though, was Peter the first pope. He didn't even qualify according to Catholicism's own belief of being infallible. Paul once had to straighten out his theology! (See Gal. 2:11-21.)
Catholics believe and teach that the pope is the vicar of Christ, supposedly God's key spokesman and leader on the earth concerning what God wants humanity to know and believe. It is also believed that his interpretation of Scripture is infallible; i.e., he can't be mistaken or wrong. His word is the final say in terms of the allegiance his subjects and emissaries must follow. I personally heard the pope, John Paul II, positively affirm his position about this. He said he doesn't deserve spiritual perfection but that it is a gift to him because of the office he holds. Early in his tenure, this "holy father" made it very clear that he plans to see to it that this belief is reinstituted, along with other traditions, throughout the world's entire Parish system.
[A note about John Paul I, the short-reigning pope who held office only briefly just before John Paul II:
I read a quote of John Paul I back in about 1980 that really shocked me. Paraphrased, he said something like this: "For centuries the Catholic church has believed and taught, including me for many years, that people must become Catholics to be Christians. I have recently concluded that we have been, and are, wrong."
I think it’s entirely possible that this pope may have seen the light and have been a true Christian himself. But he was dead within a few days after having said that! There was no autopsy report. As I recall, he had the shortest stay as pope in history. Draw your own conclusions.]
2. The Worship of Mary.
Catholics are taught that Mary, Jesus' human mother, is a mediator between Christ and them. They pray to her for her divine protection and plead to her because of her supposed intercessory-accessibility to Jesus. This they do in spite of the fact that the Scriptures plainly teach that there is but One Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus. (See 1 Tim. 2:5.)
I'm sure you have heard of the supernatural "appearances" Mary has supposedly made to Catholics throughout the ages, and are presumed to be occurring right up to the present hour. I've heard Catholic priests discuss these things quite openly on television. There is no doubt about it, they believe in her divinity and visitations. Remember the Beatles song about these phenomena? It said, "Mother Mary comes to me, whispering words of wisdom, let it be...". The appearances are probably real, but don't be deceived. I believe they are nothing more than demonic apparitions, "angels of light", designed to insidiously steer believers, and unbelievers, off course and into Satan's trap.
Apparently, the Roman church has determined the relative "weights" of sins, and categorized them on some kind of graduated scale that only they know the answers to! Catholics believe in a place called purgatory. It is a place "saints" go after physical death to sort of work out the "debit" sheet. That is, if you still have sins remaining on your account when you die, you must go to purgatory and, somehow, make restitution. The bottom line here is they do not believe the shed blood of Christ cleanses a believer in Jesus of all his sins. In short, they do not really believe the Gospel.
4. Prayers for the dead.
Catholic tradition teaches Catholic believers should pray for unbelievers who have died, (particularly while the dead are in purgatory). Can you believe these things, fellow Christians?
5. The Holy Eucharist.
Communion, according to Catholic teaching and practice, means the priest-blessed wafer and wine actually (not figuratively) become the real body and blood of Jesus! So, when ingested, the partaker is quite literally eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ. This is how one gets Christ into him/herself! This practice and phenomenon is called transsubstantiation. What a gross perversion of what Jesus said in John 6:53-58.
When a Catholic priest baptizes someone, the belief is that he is transferring his divinely-given grace to them. The priest is supposedly saving the person! This, of course, would explain why babies are baptized in the Catholic church.
These six, briefly-described beliefs and doctrines of the Roman Catholic church are things that I have either heard directly from Catholic priests on television and/or read in their own literature. These alone are sufficient evidences for me to believe that this organization is non-Christian in the sense that I understand the Christian Gospel.
Read through this section again, dear reader, and see if you conclude the same as I, that Roman Catholicism is "another" gospel than that which is taught in the Holy Bible. This organization houses about one billion adherents world-wide, which represents about 1/6 of the entire population of planet earth. My deep conviction is that this force, or "gate", is the office of the "false prophet" of Rev. 13:11-18 and is the "harlot" of Revelation 17.
Remember these words of Jesus': "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect". Mark 13:22.
Many scholars, so-called, ascribe all kinds of meanings to this passage, which probably have little or nothing to do with what Jesus was referring to. For example, they may talk about things such as New Age philosophies and similar, false ideas. Satan's deceptive traps of this sort is primarily directed at unbelievers, not the Church. The counterfeits which Satan sets up to deceive Christians have a much closer semblance to the real Church rather than an obvious false organization such as New Age concepts.
Let me share an insight of utmost importance here. How in the world do you think it would be possible to deceive the very elect of God? First of all, who are the elect? Well, clearly the elect are simply the sum total of born-again Christians. This is the true Church. And to think that you could almost deceive these "elect" ones by anything other than something that looked almost like the real thing is absurd. Do you get the point? It's ridiculous to believe that the elect would almost fall for organizations and beliefs like the New Age philosophies and such. "False christs" and "false prophets" are going to be in and around what is presumed to be the Church. And practically the whole world, outside the true Church, considers Roman Catholicism to be THE church. Even if the movement is way off course, she represents Christianity as far as the world is concerned. She is the "harlot" and the "mother of harlots".
In the final analysis, all false teachings (harlotry), cults and false doctrines, including many beliefs of some Protestant churches today, eminate from their "mother". Dear reader, look close around you for "false christs" and "false prophets", not way out there somewhere.
The third anti-Christ, anti-Church "gate" of great prominence in the world of religion is Islam. This movement originated with a man named Mohammed. He and his followers came on the scene in the 7th century. Now this force is clearly on the outside of the Church but, nevertheless, Muslims believe their religion is rooted in Abraham.
Muslims believe and teach that God chose Abraham's son, Ishmael, to be the anointed son. I don't have the space here to elaborate greatly on this, but any Christian knows very well that this is totally wrong and no where taught in Holy Scripture. In fact, God says this of Ishmael:
"...and you (Hagar, Ismael's mother) shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him, and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren."
Ishmael and his ancient descendants were indeed "wild", and one doesn’t have to look too intently to observe this is still the case. Mohammed was in the direct lineage of Ishmael and claimed to be Allah's prophet to bring order and truth to the world. Mohammed supposedly received the book of Koran directly from Allah (god). He rose up fast, gathered followers and brought great warfare against those in and around Palestine in the 600s, dispersing the remaining Jews from their homeland. His followers believed him and the religion of Islam was born.
Muslims also fought against what they perceived to be Christianity, the Holy Roman Empire. The land of Palestine went back and forth between Islam and perverted Christianity many times during what is called the Crusades. This occurred between the 600s and even up past 1,000 A.D. To prove Allah had acted in their favor, the Muslims finally placed their edifice, the Dome of the Rock, on what they perceived to be the same place where Solomon's temple stood. It sits there until this day as what I believe to be the historical "abomination of desolation".
Practically all the Arabic nations and many African nations are Muslim believers. Today there are about one billion muslims in the world and growing rapidly.
Question: Does it make sense that God's word would be silent about these two vast groups, Roman Catholicism and Islam, these two incredible "gates" which have both thwarted true Christianity almost from its inception? Well, I believe these two forces are right where one would logically expect to find them in the Scriptures, right in the limelight, not in some obscure, hard-to-find place. And yet most people, scholars and laity alike, stumble right past it, and/or resist the identification when they hear it.
ROME'S "CHRISTIANS" AND THE MUSLIMS
1. The "white horse"
As my approach always is when considering the book of Revelation, the Law of Double Reference must be seen and applied to see the last two forces described above, Roman Catholicism and Islam. Here is the description of the beginning of the first of these:
"Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, 'Come and see.' And I looked, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer." Rev. 6:1&2.
When he first started his main movement, Constantine the Great, the Roman emperor, is said to have seen a cross emblazened in the sky along with these words, "By this sign thou shalt conquer!" In the longitudinal sense of prophecy, this man was the very fulfillment of the above Scripture. Constantine did indeed go forth conquering, even in the name of Christ. Here's what Michael Hart, a historian, had to say about Constantine:
"He was the first Christian emperor of Rome and by his adoption of Christianity, and by his various policies encouraging its growth, he played a major role in transforming it from a persecuted sect into the dominant religion of Europe."
I like the way Hart put this, Constantine "adopted" Christianity. I suspect Mr. Hart viewed the Roman church, as does indeed most of the world, as representing Christianity. So "adopting" the "religion" (which is accurate, because Catholicism is a religion) fits the world's way of thinking. The likelihood is that Constantine was a "Christian" in name only. It is said of him that he didn't even accept Catholic baptism until he was on his deathbed. And then, most likely, it was some priest bestowing God's blessing of salvation on him via the power that rested upon the priest himself. As already stated, this is perverted doctrine and has no Biblical basis.
But no way was Constantine truly serving the Lord Jesus. I do not have the space here to present all the background to prove this conclusion. Go to your own encyclopedia and other history resources and study them. I think you'll be amazed at what you find. And once you see the light of this truth, it will also make you wonder how you could ever have missed his Biblical identification.
Of course, the real reason most miss this is because of the current, absurd, widespread teaching that the seals and trumpets refer only to yet-future events. Once you grasp the Law of Double Reference concept, you'll see that the seals and trumpets also present an unfolding picture of the main events of the whole Christian era.
(If you have followed my reasoning here and elsewhere, you know that I also believe the seals and trumpets have a short-range application which IS yet future. But this does not negate the historical truth of these passages. In our day we are going through the historical aspect of these prophecies even as I speak. Don't miss out on this application of God's prophetic wisdom.)
2. The "red horse"
As one would expect, the second force, Islam, is described right in the wake of that which describes perverted Christianity:
"When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, 'Come and See'. And another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another, and there was given to him a great sword." Rev. 6:3&4.
This is so blatantly descriptive of Mohammad and his sweep with the sword through Palestine and surrounding regions that one must strain to not see it! Mohammad was both a religious fanatic and a wild killer with the sword. He was very powerful and the Arabic people everywhere slowly began to endorse and get aboard his fast-moving army. It looked as if there would be no stopping him. In his book, "The 100", Michael Hart had this to say:
"Unified by Mohammad, the inspired Arabs, though small then, embarked upon one of the most astonishing series of conquests in human history. They soon conquered all of Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine. By 642, Egypt had been taken from the Byzantine Empire and the Persian armies defeated in 637, and Nahavend in 642. For a while, it must have seemed that the Moslems would overwhelm all of Christian Europe. However, in 732 at the Battle of Tours, a Moslem army, which had advanced into the center of France, was at last defeated by the Franks."
While the Franks did prevent Mohammad from taking all Europe, the conflicts between perverted Christianity and Islam would go on for centuries. These conficts were the natural outgrowth of the riders of the first two horses of the seals, the white and the red.
Today there are about one billion Mohammadans (Muslims) in the world, and ironically, about the same number of Catholics. Between them they comprise about 1/3 of all humanity. Isn't that amazing? Now does it make any sense at all that God would be Biblically quiet about such fantastic numbers and forces during the Church age? That's what most expositors would have you believe. I don’t agree with them. God spoke clearly. To hear the message, it just takes a little discernment, some digging, and willful listening to what the Spirit of God is saying to the Churches.
Dear reader, in the days ahead keep your eyes on the movements and actions within the frameworks of these three forces, or three "gates", which have been discussed in this article. That is not to say that you should not also regard all the powers and all the "trees" (nations) that Satan is using to set up his last effort to thwart the Church. He is using all kinds of deception in many places in an attempt to steer Christians off course and to direct sinners and unbelievers into hell.
The Church's job is not to forcefully destroy the evil we see. We are to be busy about spreading the good news of the simple Gospel and let it have its God-intended impact, loving one another, hating the sin but loving the sinner, while we watch and wait for Christ's appearing.
With regards to how you handle the information presented in this article I leave you with the words of Jesus:
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
In His service,